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My Story

by Marie Vogel Martina as told to Betty Miley Ashley, March 1983

Maria’s father was George Vogel b1880 Wiesenmuller; d 1945 Fresno, CA. He was the son of Henry Vogel and Margaret Weigant.

Maria’s mother was Marie Kindsvater b 1883 Wiesenmuller; d 1957 Fresno, CA. She was the daughter of John Peter Kindsvater b Wiesenmuller and Eva Elizabeth Kindsvater. John Peter Kindsvater ‘s father was Heinrich Conrad Kindsvater.

Maria Vogel Martina passed away 1985.


I will start with my beginning. I was born 25 September 1913 in Siberia. Father worked in the copper mine as a carpenter there. They furnished our home; supplied us with coal, water, whatever was necessary to live there.

One of Father’s brothers was there also. I was told he (the brother) lost his arm in the mine. It got caught in one of the belts. I cannot tell you the exact town in Siberia. When our son enlisted in the Navy, they called and asked what province in Siberia. Mother said “Okland.” Not sure of the spelling. The way Mother pronounced it, it sounded like “Aukland.” As my sister has the family Bible, I can’t tell you now long we were there, when we arrived or when we left.

My sister Emma was born in Wiesenmuller. However, we had three brothers and one sister older than us. They died as small children.

About Wiesenmuller. The layout of Wiesenmuller I cannot remember. My Father ran a flour mill. I think it belonged to his folks. I remember living with Father’s family which was large. There was a long table which was always full of people around it. There was an urn (samovar) in the center for tea. There always were eggs around the top. I remember this. I didn’t like eggs. I’d eat the white, not the yolks. Strange what sticks in your mind.

I remember going with Mother to the river (Jeruslan) and washing clothes and Mother teaching me to swim. Father had made a shoulder saddle for me so I could go to the river and help bring up water. I remember a funeral. I believe it was my Grandfather or Grandmother Kindsvater, for it was after that that we left Russia. How long I don’t know.

Mother said they were tired of being awakened at 2 a.m. with the call of “the Reds are coming.” I can remember that call. I can also remember being afraid to go to the outhouse as the soldiers were on every corner and f they smelled baking they came in and helped themselves. The women stopped going to the river to do their washing as the soldiers would go swimming at the same time.

We left Wiesenmuller in a caravan. How many families I don’t know. Quite a few. I was seven or so, my sister was one. We all had back packs so we could carry our share. We walked for eight miles in eight feet of snow to cross the Russian border into Poland where we were put into a hospital, deloused, and quarantined for smallpox. They shaved all our hair off. We all looked alike. We finally arrived in Germany at Frankfurt-on-Oder. Even then they wanted to keep the Jews out of Germany. There were three Jews in our caravan. They wouldn’t let them on the train.

We must have been in Germany three years before our sponsor could get the papers for us to leave Germany. We arrived in Lincoln, NE about the middle of September and lived with our sponsor Mr. Vogel for a year. Father worked for Mr. Vogel who was a contractor. We moved form there to what was called West Lincoln. We had started school as soon as we arrived. As the children (the Vogel children) couldn’t speak German and we couldn’t speak English, I guess we had quite a time. But they had sis and I speaking English in a year as if we were born here.

The Fritzlers and Pinneckers arrived a year later. I don’t believe the Pinneckers stayed too long in Lincoln. The Fritzlers stayed in Nebraska. Another Vogel family adopted Natalie.

We left Lincoln in 1929 or 1930. We worked a farm in Rocky Ford, CO for a year and a half. However, Father was no farmer and we had no sons to help him. It was a failure so we came to Fresno, CA. The Pinneckers had a summer kitchen which we used until we found a place of our own. By the time we got to California, Father had emphysema and couldn’t work, only in the summer. It was rough going for quite some time. Sis went to school and went looking for work. Father and I filed for our first papers. Five years later he became a citizen. I got married and had a son. Then Mother and I got our citizenship at the same time.

We never saw the Dello family again [Ed. Note: the Dello family came to America on the same ship as Maria’s family. They were from the village Laub.] The Fritzlers lived in Bayard, NE. I don’t know if Ted Busch is related or not. Millie Busch was a cousin. There were some Scheibels - they were cousins, the mother was a Kindsvater. She was a sister to Peter Kindsvater. They were related to my mother.